Singapore Businesses Eye Emerging Growth Opportunities in Central Asia

Singapore business interest is picking up in Central Asia as the region continues to provide new opportunities for business expansion and growth. Close to 20 Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) are expected to be exchanged during the Overseas Market Workshop (OMW) organised by the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, in conjunction with President of the Republic of Singapore Mdm Halimah Yacob’s State Visit to both countries from 22 to 26 May 2023.

Dr Shahzad Nasim, Vice Chairman of the SBF Middle East Business Group and SBF South Asia Business Group, and Group Executive Chairman of Meinhardt Singapore would be leading a delegation of 22 business representatives from 19 Singapore companies from sectors covering finance and investment, urban development, transport and logistics, technology, food manufacturing and processing, business services, healthcare, and education to both Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. The delegation had the opportunity to meet and listen to in-market experts share about specific business topics, visited several companies to gain a better understanding on how businesses can achieve success in the market, as well as participate in networking, and business matching sessions. Please refer to Annex A for the list of participating companies.

In addition to commercial MOUs that would be signed during the trip by Singapore companies such as PSA International, Surbana Jurong, Wilmar International and Enercon Asia, SBF is also signing MOUs with our counterpart trade associations and chambers. These include an MOU between SBF and the Chamber of International Commerce of Kazakhstan to encourage and assist our respective member organisations so they can better engage in various economic and trade collaborations as well as identify suitable business partners and opportunities. SBF also renewed our MOU with our long-standing partner the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Uzbekistan. The MOU was first signed in 2007 to help Singapore companies explore opportunities in the Uzbekistan market.

Kazakhstan is the largest economy in Central Asia and has a favourable investment climate in the region. In 2022, bilateral trade in goods amounted to S$412.3 million1. According to SBF’s National Business Survey 2022/2023, 7.95% of Singapore businesses are keen on venturing into Kazakhstan. Since the launch of the [email protected] programme, SBF has provided 74 advisories and facilitated 48 companies’ ventures into Kazakhstan which include agritech, food manufacturing and services, healthcare, hospitality, education and infrastructure sectors. During the Kazakhstan leg of the trip, SBF organised the Kazakhstan-Singapore Business Forum in Astana and a networking dinner for the Singapore delegation with close to 50 members from the Astana Business Community.

Uzbekistan is the most populous country and second largest economy in Central Asia. In 2022, bilateral trade in goods amounted to S$8.3 million. According to SBF’s National Business Survey 2022/2023, 8.28% of Singapore businesses are keen on venturing into Uzbekistan. Through the [email protected] programme, SBF has provided 70 advisories and facilitated 37 companies’ ventures into Uzbekistan which include urban development, transport infrastructure, information and communications technology, healthcare and education sectors. During the Uzbekistan leg of the trip, SBF organised the Uzbekistan-Singapore Business Forum in Tashkent as well as a networking dinner for the Singapore delegation with the Tashkent Business Community.

Mr Tan Soon Kim, Deputy Chief Executive Officer (Global Markets), Enterprise Singapore (EnterpriseSG), said, “We are encouraged to see the strong representation of businesses on this mission, which reflects the steady interest that Singapore companies have in Central Asia as they continue with their diversification efforts. There are significant projects available in the infrastructure, urban solutions, trade and innovation sectors across Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. EnterpriseSG will work closely with our in-market government partners such as the Astana International Financial Centre and the Investment Promotion Agency of Uzbekistan to help more Singapore companies expand into this region.”

Mr Ray Kwan, Director for Global Division 3 (Africa, Europe, Middle East and South and Central Asia (AEMEA)) said, “Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan are two promising emerging markets in Central Asia. There are many opportunities in the areas of finance and investment, new energy, healthcare and other innovative technologies as well as in transport and logistics, urban development and education for Singapore companies to explore. SBF has been building strong relationships with partners in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Through the MOUs signed during the trip, we look forward to boosting stronger cooperation and business ties between our countries."

Annex A

Monday, 22 May 2023